The Boy Next Door – Irene Sabatini

The Boy Next DoorPublished by Sceptre.  ISBN-10: 0340918837 ISBN-13: 978-0340918838

In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the son of Lindiwe Bishop’s white neighbour, seventeen-year-old Ian McKenzie, is arrested for a terrible crime.

A year later Ian returns home, the charges against him dropped. He is brash and boisterous, full of charm and swagger, and fascinating to fifteen-year-old Lindiwe.

She accepts a ride from him one day, despite her mother’s warnings, and something grows between them — becoming stronger and stronger in a world that wants nothing more than to divide them.

A secret that Lindiwe keeps hidden, and which Ian discovers years later, ensures that their lives will be irrevocably entwined as their country crumbles around them. 


I was pleasantly surprised by this story. It tells the tale of Lindiwe, who starts a relationship with the boy next door, who was accused of murder. He is white, she is coloured – half white half black. What happens in her teenage years impacts her later in life when Ian returns from South Africa to discover her secret, and he blows her life apart.

Following the turmoil of her own situation, is the growing tension in Zimbabwe where the story is set.

There is a line in the story, which I absolutely adored: “I should go to her grave. Maybe even David should come with me. But I don’t know if I can do it. Stand there looking at the tombstone with her name etched on it, with the parameters of her life fixed forever between two dates.”

I enjoyed Lindiwe, an intelligent woman in her own right, who struggles to cope with life with a white man, trying to understand his profound love for her while she fears that he doesn’t love her. Ian is a wonderful character, full of quick wit, love and devotion for the woman in his life.

A wonderful intelligent read, with history wrapped around it.